Kaanchli – Life in a Slough Movie Review: Depraved Rajasthani folktale

Cast: Sanjay Mishra, Shikha Malhotra, Lalit Parimoo, Nareshpal Singh Chouhan

Director: Dedipya Joshii

Rating: *

The high-sounding moniker here is definitely a put-off but the depravity within is much more likely to make you run for the hills… or wonder at the objective of such filmmakers who devise high-sounding concepts only to lose its power in repugnant, rampant decadence.

Kaanchli is a Rajasthani folk tale rendered in sexual opacity. It gives the director and cameraman a sort of license to woo the audience in with a soft-porn approach to filmmaking - where the supposedly beauteous heroine Kajri (Shikha Malhotra), already the object of desire for the three men including her husband Kishnu (Nareshpal Singh Chouhan), the impoverished village Thakur (Lalit Parimoo) and his henchman/pimp Bhoja (Sanjay Mishra) resident in this story, also becomes a titillating factor for a potential sex-starved audience.

The narrative flows at a slumberous pace as the newly wed Kajri and Kishnu begin their marital journey in the isolated edges of a Rajasthani village. The lascivious Thakur is on the look-out for a lucky charm to change his dwindling fortunes and prodded by Bhoja, believes engaging in a picadillo with this heavy bosomed symbol of femininity might just do the trick. So, after making Kishnu feel seven feet high (as one of the Thakur’s chosen Ratnas) they slyly attempt to lure the unwilling Kajri.

The bits about philosophy and morals appear as mere platitudes (and laughable really) while the accent here is to stun the male gaze with a surfeit of visuals focused on the heroine’s burgeoning cleavage and with a shadowy nude scene thrown in for good measure. The bright colours of the costumes are visually appealing but their cut and skimpiness, instead of lending authenticity, allays to a rather perverted motive. Don’t know why this film was green-lighted – but the manner in which it hopes to break even is pretty much obvious.

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